From A Coffee Bean Plant to a Coffee Bean
Those who drink coffee as I do, have any of you ever wondered where did coffee originate from? Maybe, you’ve wondered where do coffee beans grow? Or, simply put, what are the coffee bean types that are available around the world?
Before I started my website, “The Coffee Bean Shoppe,” I didn’t have a clue about the history behind coffee, I was amazed when I found out that if someone got caught drinking coffee in the Middle Ages, they would be put to death, or that coffee was considered the drink of “Satan.” In addition, coffee had 5 attempts on it to have it banned in Europe. So now when I sit down with an innocent cup of hot cup of “Joe,” I think about all those people who were put to death over a simple cup of coffee.
Coffee as a Food Staple
But for most of us who love coffee, they haven’t even thought about any of these questions. For most of us, coffee is a food staple that is essential to our daily lives. It gives us a “pick-me-up” and gives up the ability to function. But even if you need a “caffeine fix,” you have plenty of choices when it comes time to fill your best coffee mug. In recent decades, stores and cafes have started stocking coffee beans from all over the world, each specially prepared to achieve a unique taste. Let’s take a look at how this magical plant travels from farm to coffee roaster to your cup.
In the Beginning, There Were Beans
According to legends, in the 9th century, an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi observed his goats consuming bright red berries from a nearby bush. Kaldi noticed that after eating the red berries, his goats seemed to be very playful and energized. So he tried some himself and experienced a “high.” He was so excited that he took some to a monk who resided in a monastery. But the Monk who saw Kaldi and his reaction to eating these berries disapproved of its use and threw them into the fire. Other monks smelled the rich aroma and came running. They took the roasted coffee beans out of the fire, crushed them, and made a delicious beverage out of them. And this was the first coffee.
The first coffee plant was first cultivated in 15th-century in Yemen, and much
of today’s world still imports beans from the Middle East. Many countries in South America grow coffee beans and Brazil grows and exports over 60% of the world’s coffee beans. Coffee beans are also grown in Central America, Southeast Asia, and Africa as well. These countries are major bean exporters because their countries have the right climate to grow coffee plants. They have warm, dry climates that allow the plant to thrive. These countries have the right growing conditions – including soil, climate, and altitude – produce a unique crop with characteristic natural flavors that are unlocked by the roasting process.
The Coffee Bean Process
Coffee beans are grown through a long and tedious process. It not only takes several years to find just the right coffee plant to grow in a coffee plantation, but it also takes a lot of sweat and hard work to grow the right coffee beans that will eventually be sent to coffee roasters. This one process alone takes several years to achieve.
When roasting coffee beans, coffee roasters roast their coffee beans at temperatures ranging between 350 degrees F to 460 degrees F and roasting times run between 8 to 18 minutes. Expert coffee roasters must have an excellent hearing because it is their responsibility to listen very closely while the coffee beans are in the roaster. They must listen for the first crack to determine what color range of light too dark to make their coffees. Some of these expert roasters will not pass beyond a certain amount of caffeol, which is the fragrant oil produced in burnt coffee, to balance the precipice of smoky and bitterness. Other factors for roasters to consider are bean size, density, moisture, and roast color which brings forth a delicious brew. This can only be distinguished by experienced and heartfelt roasters.
While the coffee is being brewed, experts called “baristas” come in and taste the coffee so they can judge it. These “baristas” are much like the wine tasters, who come in and taste the wine so they can judge the wine, except baristas specialize in coffee. Out of all the bags and lots of coffee, they chose the most aromatic, strong, and better-looking coffees.
A coffee roaster imports beans from all over the world and runs them through a process that emphasizes or changes their flavors.
Types of Roasts
Starting with a given bean, a specialty coffee roaster can create many kinds of flavors and drinking experiences. Lower drum temperatures produce light and medium roasts. Light beans are softer shades of brown and are usually dry and non-oily to the touch. They retain much of the flavor unique to their original country and its soil, climate, and altitude. The lightest beans have the most complex flavors, allowing drinkers to detect hints of nut, fruit, and sweetness, depending on the bean’s native character. They are also highest in acidity and caffeine.
In contrast, beans exposed to higher temperatures for longer periods of time produce an entirely different taste. Dark beans emerge from the drum with a shiny, oily texture. Viennese, French, and Italian blends – all dark varieties – can look more black than brown, and they produce a richer, thicker taste when brewed. The characteristic origin flavor is softened and overshadowed by a more robust “coffee” flavor such that the origin often has no bearing on a dark brew’s taste. Longer and hotter roasting extracts more caffeine from the beans. If you are looking for a morning “caffeine fix” than French and Italian options aren’t recommended.
Get On The Wild Side
So the best thing to do if you love coffee as I do is to find a specialty coffee roaster near you or go online and order different coffee types so you can start experimenting with different beans and roasts. If you are adventurous or a little on the wild side like me, you can even mix different beans together, grinding and brewing your creation into the perfect custom cup. The possibilities are endless, and it’s easy for any casual sipper to turn “connoisseur” overnight – especially if you’re too tired to get any sleep.